American as Paneer Pie

Supriya Kelkar. Aladdin, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5344-3938-2
In this resonant #OwnVoices novel, a first-generation Indian American girl who initially wishes to blend into her predominantly white community learns to honor her identity. Sixth grader Lekha Divekar is the only Desi kid in her Detroit suburb. In order to avoid bullying at school, she covers the bindi-shaped birthmark on her forehead (which earned her the nickname Dot) and avoids bringing her favorite Indian foods for lunch. At home, however, Lekha takes pride in her heritage and Hindu faith, practicing folk dances and celebrating Diwali with her family. When another Indian family moves in across the street, Lekha’s initial attitude toward 11-year-old Avantika is one of condescension: “My new neighbor had a thick Indian accent. My new neighbor was a fob.” But as classmates, Lekha admires Avantika’s confidence and eloquence, and the two become friends. After Lekha’s family is the target of racist vandalism, she determines to speak out against the xenophobia in her town, where a new political slogan, “Don’t like it? Leave,” has taken hold. Though Lekha’s transformation from silent onlooker to vocal activist feels sudden, taking place in the book’s final portion, Kelkar (Ahimsa) illuminates the need for voices raised against discrimination and paints a convincing portrait of a girl straddling two cultures. Ages 8–12. Agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. (May)
Reviewed on : 04/02/2020
Release date: 05/12/2020
Genre: Children's
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